From 29 January to 1 February, 30 representatives from various faith traditions gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh for a workshop on “Interfaith Reflections on Just Transitions: Linking Climate and Economic Justice”. The workshop was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Council for World Mission and was hosted by the National Council of Churches in Bangladesh.
“The aim was to discuss the ethical, moral and spiritual undergirdings of just transitions as well as the roles faith communities could and ought to play in empowering transformation”, said Athena Peralta, WCC programme executive for economic and ecological justice.
Dr Najma Mohamed from the International Labour Organisation discussed the concept of and shared guidelines for a just transition from a fossil fuel-dependent and extractive economy to a regenerative and redistributive economy. Climate change demands rapid restructuring of the global economy to keep global warming to not more 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But at the same time, “we must leave no one behind and achieve social justice for workers and vulnerable communities”, Mohamed emphasized.
The meeting was grounded in the context of Bangladesh. In shaping just transitions, “it is crucial to engage with and listen to the experiences of workers, farmers, women, refugees and other communities impacted by climate change”, said Sudipta Singh, mission secretary for the Council for World Mission.
“We learned from the communities themselves low-cost ways of mitigating, adapting and building resilience to climate change”, shared Rev. Henrik Grape, WCC senior advisor on care for creation, climate justice and sustainability. As part of the workshop, Grape and other participants visited, among others, a Climate Technology Park on the outskirts of Dhaka initiated by the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh.
Bringing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other faith representatives, “the meeting provided a space for interfaith dialogues of the mind, heart and hand in response to the need for a just transition”, said Rev. Dr Peniel Rakjumar, WCC programme executive for interreligious dialogue.
The communique arising from the meeting affirmed that:
“[O]ur faith traditions provide convergent as well as distinct ethical and spiritual principles to critically engage with climate change. In the Abrahamic traditions, there is a shared affirmation that the whole of creation glorifies the creator…Within the Dharmic faiths there is an emphasis on recognizing the intrinsic value of both sentient and non-sentient beings…The brahma-viharas of Buddhist teachings…the principles of tikkun olam and Sabbath in Judaism, stewardship in Christianity, Islam (khalifa) and Judaism, Dharma understood as the duty to uphold what is right in Hinduism…and…wider teachings…that promote simple living are good examples of how care for creation is integral to living a life of justice which is centered on the wellbeing of our neighbors and the creation”.